It’s that time of year again when my excitement to start my garden is met by reality. I don’t know about you but every spring, once those sunny days arrive and first flowers start to bloom, I am itching to start my garden. But I don’t get it done in time. I always seem to miss the start window that is listed on my seed packets. Or I start them, and they just don’t thrive. Some years I am just too busy to get things started from home.

Are you like me? Have no fear, our local farmers have us covered… you can buy robust plant starts (also called transplants) from our local farmers and Farmers Markets. From flowers to veggies to herbs and yes, tomatoes, our gardens will happen!

Tips for Planting Transplants

Here are some tried and true tips for your plant babies.

  • An important rule of thumb is to wait until after Mother’s Day before directly planting your seedlings into the ground to avoid frost, except for cool weather plants (like lettuce and kale), which can be planted now.
  • Follow all the instructions from your farmer about spacing, sun, and watering. 
  • Keep your transplants inside or sheltered from the elements before planting. Give them a few days outside before you decide it’s time to plant. Make sure they have a few sets of leaves before planting in the ground. 
  • Dig your hole first before taking the transplant out of its container. Carefully squeeze the container to remove plant, roots, and as much original soil as you can. Adding a little compost to the hole when you put in the plant now is helpful too.  Water liberally.
  • If you don’t have much space, plants can thrive in containers too, from pretty pots to plain old 5-gallon buckets.

Tips for Weeding

Make weeding easier this year by working your soil less from the very beginning! You can use this technique whether starting with an existing bed or from a brand-new garden into a patch of grass:

  • Lay down multiple, overlapping sheets of newspaper (not the shiny kind) or single sheets of un-taped cardboard.
  • Wet thoroughly. If you are starting a new garden on grass, you’ll want to wait a week or more to start to kill the grass. Keep your cardboard “watered.”
  • Cover with a thick layer of compost. You can buy it from your local garden store. Start planning now for making your own compost at home or with one of these handy local services: Kona Compost and BCS Compost.
  • Smaller transplants: plant directly into the compost layer.
  • Larger transplants: Punch a hole through the newspaper/cardboard to plant larger starts. Dig only the amount needed to plant your start.
  • Cover your unplanted areas, heavier in the walking rows and lighter between the plants, with wood chips, straw, grass clippings, shredded leaves or more newspaper/cardboard. Add mulch (don’t turn it over or you’ll plant more weeds) as the season progresses.
  • Remember, some weeds are edible and important for pollinators, consider using them! Check out purslane, yellow wood sorrel, lambsquarters, dandelion, chickweed.

Lucky for us, our farmers have us covered. There is no joy like having your own garden. Picking a sun-warmed tomato, pruning back your herbs and watching them bush out, and eating fresh from your own labor. I hope you can jump start your garden with a transplant from a local farmer!

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